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Author: Brendan Bakala

Athrú

“So how was the trip?”

It was the first word between us since he’d picked me up from O’Hare. Calls with customers, business associates ate up the lull; everyone had to talk to Dad.

“Fun. It was good to see everybody. Granny’s still sharp as a tack. All the cousins got to meet up.”

“That’s good.” He changes lanes, fast to middle.

“You’ll have to come next time.”

“I know.” His eyes stay fixed on the road. The stubble on his face is a day old, maybe two. It’s not like him to not shave. “It’d be nice to get over there again.”

“Yeah.”

We take the exit off I-80 onto I-88. Almost home.

“Did Kevin get to the airport okay?”

There’s something in his voice, I can’t put my finger on it. “Yeah. He took the bus down to Dublin, no problems. Can’t believe he’s going to London.”

His mouth twitches and the age lines carved into his face darken. “He should be over there to see the family, not going to London.”

“Wouldn’t you like to go to there, see Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, the Tower of London?”

“I don’t think that’s what he’s going to see, Kate.”

We jump off 88 and head to our subdivision. The tall oaks appear on either side of us, old and massive. The leaves haven’t changed yet, despite the chilly air. Great green gobs, hanging above us. Waiting.

“So how was the party?”

He presses on the gas and I get a sinking feeling. “Good,” I say. “Fun.”

“And Kevin?”

“Kevin was fine.”

“I heard Mom was angry with what he was wearing. At the party.” He lifts the turn signal.

“She wasn’t thrilled.”

“Said he was trying to make a statement or something.”

“I don’t know, I didn’t ask him.”

“Right.” He pulls into the driveway and puts the Toyota in park. “How long have you known?”

“A while.”

He mutters something inaudible and gets out of the car. Up in the trees I spot the first leaves that have turned. Beacons of orange, yellow and red within the fluttering green.


Flash Fiction by Brendan Bakala
Picture: Photo by eflon under CC BY 2.0
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